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The First Rule of Vegan Club

My best friend’s gone vegan. Even if she wasn't posting pictures of Brad Pitt, a ‘symbol of the vegan diet’, on Facebook every five minutes, I’d know this because her cupboards are empty. The problem is, see, that she hates little round things. Ever since we were kids she’s retched at the sight of baked beans, thrown a paddy when served sweetcorn and freaked out like a spider has infiltrated her clothes if you flicked a pea in her direction. So lentils. Na ah. I’m not sure what she’s eating because there’s not a Quorn burger in sight, but she’s alive (and posting Brad Pitt) so she must have found something.

After last Christmas’s meat frenzy, my daughter and I decided to go vegetarian. We’d been doing Meat Free Mondays for a couple of years and, in truth, we were doing Meat Free Every Day Except Sunday as we’d pretty much dropped animal from our menu. Also I’d felt increasingly uncomfortable buying meat that wasn’t Freedom Food or organic (both of which guarantee some level of animal welfare) so I was spending more and more time in front of the ‘friendly meat’ aisle lamenting that four slices of pig cost £2.50 and fighting my OH off late night ham-snacking at the fridge. So once we’d endured the turkey curry, turkey risotto and cold meat buffet, we ceased filling the fridge with meat products and filled it with eggs, cheese and healthy-looking veg instead.

Then...

‘Cheese isn’t necessarily vegetarian,’ my brother tells me. ‘Rennet comes from the stomach of newborn calves.’ Oh.

‘JELLYYYY!’ my daughter shrieks as I’m about to savour a mouthful of trifle. Bother.

‘Beef Gelatine,’ the label on the marshmallow packet reads just as I’m about to make myself a hot chocolate with ‘the works’. Ugh.

Also, I’m like literally drooling in the chip shop at the turning kebab spike.

Around February I decide to pull it back. Both my daughter and I want to succeed – we both feel unhappy about animal welfare conditions in the meat production industry, not to mention the wider world impacts of eating lots of meat – but diving in headfirst like my admirable sphere-hating friend isn’t for everyone, so we complete the year pescatarian: fish eaters.

Despite how it seems, eating less meat doesn’t have to be an all or nothing decision. Habits are formed slowly, over the long term, one day at a time. The first rule of vegan club is you can take it slowly. You just don’t get to post Brad Pitt yet.

Emma is a columnist and feature writer for Liberti Magazine.

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